Yesterday, watching the Saturday slate of games, one could tell there was something brewing, as upsets were unfolding before our eyes. Some finished the task before them and defeated their rivals, others fell short.
The Clemson Tigers, having the fortune (or misfortune) of playing a later game, if you believe in what you had seen throughout the day, this game had that feeling, one where anything could happen.
After a tumultuous season (by Clemson standards), this beleaguered, injury ridden young team, went about the task of taking care of business. They started from the outset, scored efficiently, quickly and just never looked back. It was a delight for all the Orange clad faithful to see. They had completed the season, and ACC Atlantic Champs or not, their job was complete, done.
I posted yesterday, if someone had appeared at my door, before the game and guaranteed me a one point Tiger victory and the price was a kidney, I’d have to think about it. Hyperbole for sure, but it was a little insight as to where my emotions were prior to the game. I sensed upset might be the order of the night but I sensed wrong.
With Fans, media and pundits alike, Clemson’s season has been scrutinized, minimized and criticized by many, this “crow eating” writer included. It was an anomalous season. At times, painful to watch but never ever dull or uninteresting. In my best estimation, never before could fans point to three distinct moments and say, “there’s where the season fell apart and there is where the season was turned around.” Clemson fans, this season has that clarity.
The opener against Georgia was where the wheels started wobbling and they completely fell off late September in Raleigh, after a double overtime loss to NC State. Then, the struggles at Pittsburgh seem to cut so deep, a new, unshakable resolve was born.
All three of those games could have rendered a lesser willed team a waste, a total loss. There are many that would have checked out, given up, but not Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. They just kept on fighting. Last night, the final battle fought, the job was complete.
Tiger fans can proudly point to the 2016 season after the first of two national championships. They can point to the greatness of the 2018, 15-0 season with pride and say, those Tigers were the greatest. Ironically, one can now point to this season and say, this was the grittiest, most hard fighting and yes, in the end, the most gutsy team of Swinney’s tenure.
So, in the comfort of this warm armchair, sipping the best cup of coffee I’ve had all season, it’s not a stretch to say “job well done.” What a rollercoaster ride this season has been. What a journey, what a splendid struggle.
As the game ended, one won’t soon forget the painful steep drops nor the thrill of each twist and turn. Once the dust settles on this season, this team will still have issues to fix, but it will never lack heart. Ever.
All hats are off to these beleaguered, these injured, these special band of brothers, these 2021 warriors, these Clemson Tigers. Not only because of this victory, but the way this team arrived at this place. They will be remembered, always.
Thank you 2021 Tigers. It’s been quite a ride, enjoy the fruits of your well deserved labors.
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